BELLINGHAM, Wash. -

A Whatcom County beekeeper accused of stealing hives from a competitor will have to pay more than $14,000 in restitution.

But, Joseph Eugene "Skip" Guilmette of Everson avoided jail time in a plea agreement last week in Bellingham. He says he pleaded guilty to theft and possessing stolen property to stay out of jail and keep his honey and candle business going.

Guilmette told The Bellingham Herald (http://bit.ly/1gtXirk ) he took 28 hives last spring in a disputed business deal.